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A hospital's Emergency Department (ED) serves as its front door to the community. The vast majority of admitted patients present initially to the ED, and even more still begin and end their hospital visit in the ED. A hospital's ED will deal with every societal ill facing that community. However, most hospitals reserve dedicated Social Service resources to admitted patients who have had prolonged inpatient hospital stays. EDs around the country are being overburdened with patients who present to the ED for non-emergent conditions. Access to community based healthcare is daunting even for well-connected individuals. It can be downright impenetrable for large portions of the community. Often the easiest, or only, choice is to return to the hospital's ED. Changes in healthcare have brought a sharp focus on these repeat users of hospital services. The Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program, created by the Affordable Care Act, was designed to make hospitals take an active role in preventing readmissions to their hospital for chronic diseases. In 2015, 2,592 hospitals (almost half of the country) will receive lower payments for every Medicare patient that stays in the hospital - a penalty of $420 million. Having dedicated Social Services support in the ED can help prevent these return visits by connecting individuals to community based health services, helping navigate the mental health maze, and by providing a person of contact for patients to utilize before they decide to present back to the hospital - ultimately matching that patient with the appropriate service provider.

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Clinical and Medical Social Work | Emergency Medicine

Helping Navigate the Complex Web of Community Medicine: How Dedicated Social Services Support in the ED Can Prevent Unnecessary ED Visits and Hospital Readmissions



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